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Blessing on Foodby Christine Quinn Christensen
Blessings on food are prayers to thank God for providing sustenance and to ask his blessings both on the food and on those who share it. Such blessings should precede each meal and may be given by any member of the family, adult or child. In private these prayers are spoken orally, but may be spoken silently by individuals dining in public. All blessings on the food are addressed to God in the name of Jesus Christ. They are spoken from the heart as there is no prescribed prayer.
Latter-day Saints follow the patterns established by Christ and his disciples in blessings on food. When feeding the multitudes, Christ gave thanks for sustenance (Matt. 15:35-36) and blessed it (Matt. 14:19). Paul taught that food was to be received with prayer and thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:3-5).
Biblical examples of praying over food are the basis for the Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions of blessings on food or saying grace. Converts to Mormonism tended to continue these traditions from their prior faiths, and to be bolstered by the Latter-day Saint instruction on prayer: All things are to be done "with prayer and thanksgiving." Food and all "good things which come of the earth are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart, to strengthen the body and enliven the soul . And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things" (D&C 59:7, 17-19, 21). (See From Whom All Blessings Flow by Elder Neal A. Maxwell)
Petitioning God for blessings on the food to be eaten is typical of Mormon table blessings. This may include requests for nourishment and good health, for strength to do one's work and God's will and to be of service. Other blessings on the diners or on those who prepared the meal are also deemed appropriate.
In many cultures, breaking bread or sharing a meal with others is an act of hospitality. According to Latter-day scripture such sharing may also be a foretaste of the future Messianic banquet (D&C 58:8). Because family meals provide opportunities for sharing the deepest spiritual concerns and rejoicings, it is especially appropriate to begin such occasions with prayer and the invocation of the Spirit. In LDS families this prayer is customarily spoken at the beginning of the meal only, and not also following the meal, as is the custom among some people of other religions. Because there is no prescribed form for Latter-day Saint blessings on food, such blessings enable families daily to express their own feelings, thoughts, and words in intimate prayer and fellowship two or three times a day.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Blessings on Food
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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